Tom Slingsby and Team Australia have won the Spanish part of the Sail Grand Prix campaign on a wild afternoon in Cadiz Bay.
- The win is Tom Slingsby and Team Australia’s third in six regattas this season
- Australia currently leads the fleet with eight teams with 45 points followed by the US and Japan with 44 each
- Following the Sydney Regatta on 17 and 18 December, the San Francisco Season Championship will be held from 26 to 27 March
The Australians eased to victory in the podium sailing after Sir Ben Ainslie’s UK boat capsized right after the start, effectively knocking out the American team skipped by Australian Jimmy Spithill.
The victory in Cadiz Bay allowed the Australians to vault back into the lead in the season standings heading into their home gata in Sydney in mid-December.
An expected showdown in heavyweight in the podium race among three of the world’s best skippers never came to anything.
Ainslie’s 50-foot catamaran dived shortly after takeoff, and Spithill had to turn so abruptly to avoid a collision that his catamaran crashed off its foils, triggering the emergency stop systems.
By the time it took for the systems to restart, Slingsby had sailed off for its third win in six regattas this season.
“It looked like they got a big gust of wind and got a little high on the foils. I just saw them go into a giant pitch pole right in front of us.
“The goal was to avoid them, and then we did not really understand what happened to Team USA.
“We realized we had a big lead and we just had to take care of ourselves around the pitch.”
Spithill, a two-time America’s Cup winner, was able to get going again and finished the race to strengthen Team USA’s place in the rankings.
Australia leads the eight-team fleet with 45 points, followed by the United States and Japan with 44 each and the United Kingdom with 40.
The rest of the fleet is New Zealand with 36 points, Spain 35, Denmark 33 and France 31.
Following the Sydney Regatta, the season championship will be decided in San Francisco on the 26th-27th. March 2022, where the top three teams sail for $ 1 million ($ A1.4 million), the winner-takes-all championship.
The Aussies won the grand prize in the first season of 2019.
“It’s a great feeling to finish the European leg up front,” said Slingsby, who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Games.
The Aussies won only one of five fleet races over the weekend, but never finished lower than fourth in the other races.
As the wind blew over 20 knots, Spithill skipped the American boat onto the podium for the fourth time this season.
“Today was definitely on the edge. You’re really in avoidance mode,” Spithill said.